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Media Advisory 2002/0110 (1 October 2002)
IAEA and Iraq: The Next Steps

Press Conference by Dr. Hans Blix, Executive Chairman, UNMOVIC, Dr. Amir Al Sadi, Head of Iraqi Delegation and Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, Director General, IAEA
Unofficial Transcript

Related Coverage: Press Statement

Hans Blix: Before you have any questions I will read to you what we have agreed:

"Representatives of Iraq, UNMOVIC and the IAEA have had talks over the last two days on practical arrangements needed for or facilitating resumed inspections. They were held in a business-like and focused manner.

The Iraqi representatives declared that Iraq accepts all the rights of inspection provided for in all the relevant Security Council resolutions.

The Iraqi delegation handed over four CD ROMs containing the backlog of semi-annual monitoring declarations for the sites and items covered by the ongoing monitoring and verification plans for the period June 1998 to July 2002.

"Technical" matters are often crucial for the effectiveness of inspections and, thereby, their credibility. It is therefore better to have thorough discussions about them in Vienna than in the field.

It has been found that many practical arrangements followed between 1991and 1998 remain viable and useful and could be applied.

On the question of access, it was clarified that all sites are subject to immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access. However, the Memorandum of Understanding of 1998 establishes special procedures for access to eight presidential sites.

Some past practical arrangements would be modified. For improved efficiency, aeroplanes used by inspection staff arriving in Baghdad will land at Saddam International Airport, rather than at Habbaniya, which is some 80 kilometres from Baghdad.

On the question of the use of fixed-wing planes, as well as helicopters, for inspection, the Iraqi delegation declared that Iraq would take all steps within its control to ensure the safety of inspection air operations; however, Iraq could not provide full guarantees about safety in the no-fly zones."

Now that is the text that we have agreed and we are ready to take some questions:

Question: Mr.Blix, are you satisfied that under existing UN Security Council resolutions you have full agreement in order to restart weapons inspections?

Hans Blix: Iraq has said that they accept all the rights of inspections which are laid down in the Security Council resolutions we have specified some of the matters, the practical matters here.

Question: Are you satisfied? What are you going to tell the Security Council?

Hans Blix: I am going to give a much more detailed briefing than the one you get.

Question: Dr. Blix what are the concrete results?

Hans Blix: Well we have gone through a very great many practical arrangements and I know that we have tried your patience in waiting for us, but they start by the question of where do you fly in to Baghdad, from where and then how are the customs controls, what can you bring in, the accommodation of inspectors in Baghdad, the premises for our [monitoring and verification] Centre in Baghdad, and the refurbishment, the movement within Iraq, etc. You can't foresee everything but you can foresee a good deal and I think we have talked openly about them and we have gone through what you can at this stage.

Question: Mr. Blix, what's the key difference now from 1998 when the inspections last ended when they were blocked, when they were being hampered? What's the crucial difference now and what is the reason for it?

Hans Blix: At the end of 1998 the inspectors left on their own account although there had been many difficulties in inspection during the autumn of 1998 as you know. Since then Iraq has not been ready to accept inspections. They have not declared readiness to accept [Security Council] resolution 1284. There is now from the declaration in the General Assembly by Foreign Minister Sabri and following up on that there is a readiness to accept the inspections that did not exist before. And there had been a readiness declared at that time to go through the practical arrangements. We were interested in doing that and even last summer there was not a readiness to discuss these practical things. You need to go through them in order to get your inspections. So there is a big difference from the end of 1998.

Question: Are you satisfied with the difference? Will the resumed inspections mean that inspectors will have access that they did not have in 1998?

Hans Blix: Well, we have now established that there is access to all sites. We are not making any differences between any sites except that the [1998] MOU [Memorandum of Understanding] concerning [eight] presidential sites is separate, is regulated separately.

Question: Are you resuming a process that has proved itself to be a failure?

Hans Blix: I hope not, and I would dispute the categorization that it was all a failure. I think that everybody recognizes that under the old inspection regime more weapons of mass destruction were destroyed than during the Gulf War. However, there were severe shortcomings. And there was not a full confidence that Iraq had done away with all its weapons of mass destruction and that is doubted by many parties still. And that is why many governments want to have inspection to seek a full assurance of that.

Question: To the Iraqi please, Doctor, are you happy with these agreements, when are the weapons inspectors going back and will they have immediate access to the sensitive sites please sir?

Amir Al Sadi: Yes, we are happy to reach this agreement and we expect the advance party to arrive in Baghdad in about two weeks and we expect no difficulty regarding that.

Question: For Dr. Blix and the Iraqi representative - could you be specific in what modalities have been changed as far as visiting sensitive sites?

Hans Blix: Well, the text does not refer to any modalities about sensitive sites but places all sites on the same basis with the exception of the MOU [Memorandum of Understanding] on Presidential sites.

Question: Will the restrictions that Iraq placed on sensitive sites like Ministry buildings - have you now lifted those?

Amir Al Sadi: We have come to a very practical arrangement that we would from our side anticipate every inspection to go to sensitive sites and we will take the measures that will cancel the need for waiting period and getting approvals.

Question: (inaudible) .... government minders ...

Amir Al Sadi: The minders are always there they facilitate entry, they smooth difficulties, they are authorized to take the inspectors wherever they want to go.

Question: The Americans and the British have made it very clear that any sorts of conditions, preconditions on access to the presidential compounds is simply unacceptable, how are both of you going to get around that?

Hans Blix: We are not discussing the Memorandum of Understanding, that is an agreement that exists, that has been reached between the Secretary-General and Iraq and it has been endorsed by the Security Council. We are not changing the law that has been adopted by the United Nations. The Security Council can take measures whatever it likes, we are a subsidiary organ of the Security Council and we will be bound by them but we are not changing them on our side.

Amir Al Sadi: And I concur with that.

Mohamed ElBaradei: I might just add that under the existing mandate we have, now the assurances from the Iraqi side that we would have unrestricted, uninhibited, unconditional access to all sites in Iraq with the exception of the Presidential sites that are covered by the Memorandum of Understanding between the Security Council and the Government of Iraq and I think that that assurance is very important. The difference is that we got assurance by the Government of Iraq for full cooperation in all respects and that we can make full use of our inspection rights under Security Council resolutions. I think that this of course has to be tested when we go back to Iraq.

Question: Dr. Al Sadi, I wonder if you could address the issue of access to presidential sites, you must understand that from certainly the American perspective that is seen as critical to the success of any future inspections.

Amir Al Sadi: Quite honestly, I don't understand why it is so critical. Anyway it was not a subject on the agenda.

Question: So will there be access?

Amir Al Sadi: It is regulated by a Memorandum of Understanding and it is also referred to in the Security Council resolutions and that remains valid.

Question: Dr. Blix, is the message from your meeting here today to the American and British Governments - back off and give the inspectors a chance?

Hans Blix: No, that would be very presumptuous of us to have any such message to anybody. I'm going to report in all humility to the Security Council what we have done. It's for them to decide, we are not deciding.

Question: (Arabic)

Amir Al Sadi: (replied in Arabic)

Question: (Arabic)

Amir Al Sadi: (replied in Arabic)

Question: (Arabic)

Amir Al Sadi: (replied in Arabic)

Question: Are your inspectors going to Baghdad and if there is a new Security Council resolution will these negotiations have to be reopened?

Hans Blix: Well, we have planned and told the Security Council that we were prepared to go with an advance party to Baghdad around the middle of October, we still retain that preparedness. The Security Council of course can take any decision that it wishes to direct us, one way or the other. We are also aware of a new resolution on the table but our planning remains based upon the resolutions that we have now.

Question: If there is a new resolution does Iraq still accept unfettered unrestricted access like you have now?

Amir Al Sadi: As I said our leadership has pronounced on this issue and that remains our position.

Question: Were there any disagreements whatsoever?

Amir Al Sadi: No, the talks were business-like, purposeful and focused and I'm grateful for the effort that Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei expended in making this result possible.

Question: Have you had a chance in the short amount of time that you've had these four CDs to have anybody take a look at them to assess whether they seem to be comprehensive, whether the information contained in them is reliable?

Hans Blix: No, we have not. They contain a massive amount of information I think we appreciate that they are on CDs rather than on paper because then we would have carried suitcases of paper along with us. But they will be very important in the months to come for our analytical staff to see what has changed in various sites and items and they will be also important for deciding where we will go and what we will inspect, so it was a step, it was promised to us in New York and I'm glad it came here.

Amir Al Sadi: The four CDs cover all the activities which are prescribed and they are subject to ongoing monitoring and verification and the data in those CDs are in accordance with formats designed by the predecessor to UNMOVIC and they are adhered to exactly, whatever data is required is given, in addition to any new sites that have been constructed in the past four years.

Question: Were you angered by the comments from Colin Powell coming in the middle of such sensitive talks?

Hans Blix: No, that's not diplomatic life to be angered by comments. I'm glad that he suggests that I'm aware of what's going on in the world, I try to [be].

Question: (Arabic)

Mohamed ElBaradei: These CDs contain all the information that Iraq has owed to us since 1998. We have received the information today. We now have to go through analyzing the information including proscribed items or dual use items and all changes in the different sites that have taken place since 1998. Obviously the analysis is important. But even more important is the need to go back and verify the correctness of this information.

Thank you.